For a game in which the Mets were down 6-0 after two innings, this wasn't so bad to watch. Yes, Zack Wheeler made the worst start of his career. Yes, the A's were up 8-0 by the sixth inning. But the Mets hit a couple late home runs, and if not for some bad luck on balls in play the offense might have scored a lot more than five runs. The Mets scored 15 runs in two games against the best team in baseball, splitting a two-game series. I'll take it.
Wheeler was as terrible tonight as he was brilliant last Thursday in his shutout of the Marlins. His velocity was there -- he topped out at 98 mph -- but the sharp curve he featured against the Fish was nowhere to be found.
The A's scoring began early, when Brandon Moss hit a long two-run home run into the Pepsi Porch in the first inning. It came on a meatball 89-mph fastball that Wheeler put right down the middle. The second inning yielded even more runs for the A's. Josh Reddick walked to start the frame. Then Alberto Callaspo singled. After the opposing pitcher, Brad Mills, struck out, Coco Crisp drove in the A's third run with a single. Next, John Jaso walked, setting up a bases loaded, one-out situation for Yoenis Cespedes. By that point it was clear that Wheeler didn't have it, and simply keeping Cespedes in the ballpark seemed like it would be a victory. Wheeler did keep Cespedes in the ballpark but the outcome was almost as unfortunate -- a bases-clearing double to give the A's a 6-0 lead.
Wheeler departed after the second inning, and was followed by four Mets relievers -- Dana Eveland, Gonzalez Germen, Josh Edgin, and Jeurys Familia -- who gave up just two runs over seven innings. Crisp hit a solo home run off Eveland in the fourth inning.
Wilmer Flores pinch hit for Wheeler in the second inning. It's never a good start when you don't even get one plate appearance. Flores came up with the bases loaded and two outs, but lined out to left field to end the inning. It wasn't the only time the Mets had some baserunners against A's pitchers but suffered bad luck on hard-hit balls. Curtis Granderson's would-be double with runners on first and second in the sixth inning was snagged by first baseman Moss, who then doubled David Wright off second base. And Daniel Murphy's screaming line-drive in the eighth inning looked headed for center field, until it glanced of pitcher Dan Otero's glove to Callaspo at second base, who started an inning-ending double play.
Mets batters avoided bad luck on balls in play on two occasions by hitting the ball out of the park. Lucas Duda's pinch-hit three-run home run in the seventh inning off Mills cut the Mets' deficit to 8-3, and also gave Duda his first extra-base hit against a lefthanded pitcher this season. Chris Young followed with two-run shot in the eighth inning, giving him three home runs in two games against his former team. That has to feel good, especially after the rumors about his possible release that emerged earlier this week. Duda now has a pretty damn good OPS of .821 this season.
The A's stopped messing around after Young's home run and brought in shutdown reliever Sean Doolittle for the ninth inning. "Shutdown" doesn't even do justice for Doolittle; his strikeout-to-walk ratio is now 53-to-1 after he struck out the side tonight to end the game. Silly numbers.
The Mets and A's split this two-game series but will play another two-game set in Oakland in August. Perhaps those games will mean something to the Mets in a playoff race?
The Mets are 36-42 and sit 5.5 games behind the first-place Nationals in the NL East. Our heroes start a four-game series against the Pirates in Pittsburgh tomorrow night at 7:05 pm ET. The pitching matchup is Daisuke Matsuzaka vs Vance Worley.
SB Nation GameThreads
* Amazin' Avenue GameThread
* Athletics Nation GameThread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Curtis Granderson +3.1%, Eric Campbell +1.3%
Big losers: Zack Wheeler -39.8%, Daniel Murphy -3.5%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Brad Mills strikeout in the second inning, +3.8%
Teh sux0rest play: Brandon Moss two-run home run in the first inning, -21.2%
Total pitcher WPA: -39.7%
Total batter WPA: -10.3%
GWRBI!: Yoenis Cespedes three-run double in the second inning